TECH

Google Maps Just Got A Big Update -- Can You Spot The Difference?

This is really cool ... and borderline creepy.
New satellite imagery has arrived on Google Maps.
New satellite imagery has arrived on Google Maps.

Google's eye in the sky just got a bit sharper. 

The company has deployed new imagery from NASA's Landsat 8 observation satellite in Google Maps and Google Earth, Program Manager Chris Herwig wrote in a blog post Monday. What this basically amounts to is much crisper imagery when you're using the "satellite" function on Google Maps, which shows locations as they would appear in real life.

The difference is actually substantial. Google offered two satellite images of New York City to showcase the change. It's a night-and-day difference -- move the slider in the middle to see for yourself:

As you can see, the new image is more detailed. 

Getting such clear photographs involves a lot of data.

"We mined data from nearly a petabyte of Landsat imagery—that’s more than 700 trillion individual pixels—to choose the best cloud-free pixels," Herwig wrote. "To put that in perspective, 700 trillion pixels is 7,000 times more pixels than the estimated number of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, or 70 times more pixels than the estimated number of galaxies in the Universe."

Bottom line? That's a lot of detail. Be careful sunbathing in your backyard this summer. 

An earlier version of this article used images from Google Maps that may not have been captured by Landsat satellites. The comparison widget has been updated with imagery provided by Google.

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